Friday, June 28, 2013

White House Down Review

Roland Emmerich blows up the White House again in his new film "White House Down" starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx and Maggie Gylenhaal. Here are my thoughts on this new film from Columbia Pictures hitting theaters July 3.


The film centers on Capitol police officer John Cale (Tatum) who is unwittingly caught in a hostile takeover of the White House on the day he brings his daughter to the White House. Things go down south when a couple of plot twists come up and he reluctantly plays bodyguard to the President of the United States (Foxx).

The movie starts out in a pretty slow, almost dragging pace but the most the first bomb goes off, the roller coaster ride begins. I like roller coaster rides and while some might think of "White House Down" as a new and clever way of blowing up the White House once again, I'm to think that it does have its strong points.


If you ever felt like you were shortchanged by the lack of Channing Tatum-ness in "G.I. Joe Retaliation" then you should definitely go and see this film. As one of my Facebook friends mentioned, this is the GI Joe movie that never was. And I actually agree, it's GI Joe through and through, with themes of patriotism and lots of explosion and politics, you could actually pass of "White House Down" as a good Duke solo mission movie.


Tatum is an all-around guy in this movie. He jumps, punches, drives like a maniac, quips and even tries really hard to act like a father to an almost grown up Joey King [the little girl from Ramona and Beezus]. yes, he fails. Also if they were trying to pair up Rachel Dawes Maggie Gyllenhaal with the lead star, it doesn't work. Still, Tatum just reinforces the idea, thanks to the WHD, that he is this generation's action star, he's marketable and ladies love to swoon over him.

Jamie Foxx on the other hand is a different story. The 'Django Unchained' star plays the role of President Sawyer. For the first time in years, Foxx plays a funny guy once again. Not corny and comedic, just plain funny. He might be a gunslinger here but the guy certainly pulls his own weight in the movie. As far as I'm concerned, Foxx did a great turn with lines as cheesy and campy as 'get your hands off my Jordans'. The guy definitely deserves your vote... of confidence. .


White House Down is also a cleverly disguised 'disaster porn'.


It's not as over the top as "2012" but it definitely tries to hit that mark in sheer widescreen terror. As mentioned earlier, Emmerich gets to blow up the White House (again.); destroys Air Force One using an ICBM launched from the midwest and have ground force one run around like Herby on crack. Things just have a tendency to go boom in this flick.


While the onscreen tandem of Foxx and Tatum is untested, it actually works in some scenes and fails in others. But it's usually more of the former rather than the later.

In terms of the villains in this movie, can't say I'm impressed with the choices. We've got the legendary James Woods as presidential security chief Martin Walker and Jason Clarke as the imposing Emil Stentz. The fight scenes were just OK nothing to really speak highly off but enough to get your adrenaline going. There were a couple of visuals here that appeared to be dated such as the look on the US raptor fighter jets deployed to level the White House. Then Wood's final moments alive onscreen also looked so fake. ( I won't spoil how it ends though).

Finally, can't say that I wasn't pleased with the touches of Metal Gear Solid in this movie. There's talks of the military-industrial complex; talks about patriotism and sacrifices. And hell even Stenz's team are PMCs and its blantantly referred to throughout the movie.


Overall, while WHITE HOUSE DOWN might seem like a generic action movie with themes and motiffs copied from classic 80s and 90s action movies; there's a modern world sensibility to it. Tatum is slowly improving on his acting and if he just keeps up with all the sliding and jumping, he'll probably catch up with other Hollywood action heroes like his Retaliation co-star Dwayne Johnson and Vin Diesel.

White House Down is simply a nice addition to the Hollywood Summer Blockbusters for this year. It's silly and a bit campy but once you've accepted that fact, you'll start enjoying the movie. Yes, I used the word enjoy. Just sit back and enjoy and just don't meddle too much on the plot. 

Verdict: 7/10

Special thanks to Columbia Pictures. White House Down opens July 3.

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